Scientists from Rutgers and Stanford universities have developed a potentially revolutionary technique to grow new neurons from adult stem cells and better ensure their survival during transplantation to the brain. The method, involving the use of 3-D scaffolds, may one day help to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Published in the journal Nature, the study involved a large group of researchers from both universities, collaborating across different disciplines. The conversion of adults cells to stem cells that can be grown into neurons is nothing new, but the supporting structure improved cell survival 38-fold compared to other methods, like the injection of isolated cells.
The 3-D scaffolds consist of tiny polymer fibers, said Prabhas V. Moghe, a distinguished professor in the departments of Biomedical Engineering and Chemical and Biochemical Engineering at Rutgers. Researchers grew the neurons on the scaffold in the lab before injecting a number of them into the brains of mice. Once transplanted, neurons that sprouted from the scaffold were in an excellent position to communicate with neurons already present in the brain, enabling their survival.
excerpt © 2016 ALS News Today